Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau fire fighters expect to respond to over 5,300 calls this year. easily surpassing last year's total.
Assistant Fire Chief Chad Cameron says they've already had more calls per year than they've ever had with another month and a half to go in the year. They responded to 4,517 calls in 2016. As of Wednesday morning, the total for 2017 is 4,582. "Right now, compared to last year, we're seeing an approximately 17.6 percent increase in call volume." The chief added that they had a similar percentage increase in calls last year. He projects the total for this year at 5,312.
Cameron says the department needs more help to keep up. He says city management and the fire department will commission an independent study this winter that will suggest recommendations on personnel and responses.
Cameron says its frustrating when they are unable to respond to calls because all of their units are on other calls. "That happens too frequently," he said. "Everybody is everywhere already and we have nothing left to give."
The need for additional staffing was underscored during the response to the fire on Seward Street early on the morning of September 17 that claimed two lives.
Four fire fighters had to be treated for smoke inhalation, according to Assistant Chief Tod Chambers, who said it came from not having enough people for what we were faced with at a critical time in the morning. "We're currently working with the city administration to resolve some of those issues," he said. "We were at minimal staffing." In addition to career staff at each station, four volunteers responded.